Woman doing a tandem skydive.

Ask anyone who's made a skydive before and they will describe one of the most exhilarating experiences of their lives!

One of the most common questions for someone who is looking to make their first jump is: "How much does it cost to go skydiving?" We are here today to answer that question in detail.

Below we will cover the costs associated with making your first jump, as well as proceeding on an becoming an experienced jumper. The information below is essential to read before you make your first booking, so ready carefully!

The Cost of Your First Skydive

In the section below, we are going to cover all the basic concepts you need to know before making your first jump. Understanding a bit about the process will help you choose the right package and estimate the costs associated with your first jump.

What is a Tandem Skydive?

A woman enjoying a summer tandem

Before we get started, it's important to explain the most common type of first jump: a tandem skydive - or just a 'tandem' for short. Since its inception in the 1980's, tandem skydiving quickly grew to become the most popular way to make your first skydive.

During a tandem, the passenger (you!) wears a harness and is hooked to the front of a rated instructor. As a pair, the two make a full altitude freefall jump and parachute landing. The instructor handles all the equipment while the you get to enjoy the ride!

There are some alternative first jump types including static line, but they are much less common. A tandem is our recommended first jump experience. Now that you understand the adventure you're about to embark on, its time to start shopping!

Average Price of a First Jump

On average, a first time skydive will cost between $99 - $400 depending on when and where you jump. On the low end, $99 will get you a no-frills jump, often from a lower altitude. On the high end, you can expect more freefall time and a personalized video and photos of your experience.

Fine Print of Choosing a Low Cost Skydive

It is worth mentioning that the lower price of a jump may have an impact on the extras and features of a skydive - but not the overall safety. All operational dropzones should be following strict safety and training procedures. They should be staffing rated, current instructors who are there to keep you (and themselves!) safe.

What we do recommend is being on the for rated dropzones. For example in the USA, we have the United States Parachute Association (USPA) that grants tandem instructor ratings. In our dropzone database, we highlight USPA rated facilities.

With all that being said, the cost of jumping at a professional, long standing dropzone may be higher. It also may be worth it for a better experience in the long run.

How to Choose the Right Jump Package

Choosing the right package can seem tricky at first, but together we will cover the main options that you need to consider when making a booking. All of these factors usually have an impact on the price of your jump.

How High Do You Jumping From?

As you shop for a tandem, you'll see a wide range of altitudes advertised. Depending on the dropzone, you'll often find jump packages ranging from 7,500 - 18,000 feet above ground level (AGL). Often this altitude is influenced by the location of the dropzone (how high above sea level) and what type of aircraft that dropzone uses.

As you'd expect, the altitude that you jump from has a direct impact on how long you're in freefall.

  • The most common jump altitude is between 10,000 and 13,000 ft AGL. This altitude usually takes between 15-25 minutes to reach, depending on the type of aircraft you're in. The resulting freefall time is between 45-60 seconds.
  • Lower altitude jumps can usually be found at a discounted price. This gives you less freefall time, usually from a smaller aircraft like a Cessna. Usually this provides a freefall time of ~30 seconds.
  • Many dropzones offer higher altitude jumps, often up to 18,000 feet MSL. Jumps from this height most often take place in larger aircraft like the Twin Otter. Because these flights take passengers above 15,000 feet MSL, it is required to use supplemental oxygen. This altitude can provide freefall time of almost two minutes.

It is also important to note that a tandem master will open the parachute around 4,500 feet AGL regardless of how high you jump from. This results in about 5 minutes of canopy time. Some first time skydivers actually find this to be the most enjoyable part of the skydive!

What Type of Aircraft are You Jumping From?

Skydiving Jump Plane Formation Lineup

Understanding a bit about jump planes can help prepare you for your first jump. It can also be an important factor when choosing where to skydive. Speaking generally, there are two main categories of jump planes: smaller Cessnas and larger Turbines.

Both types of aircraft will provide a great skydiving experience, but the difference between the two types can be an important one to consider when booking a tandem.

Cessna-Type Aircraft

Cessna 182 Jump Plane

Cessna 182

  • Are often found at smaller or more remote dropzones.
  • May hold as few as 4-6 passengers - this may have implications if you're jumping with a big group.
  • May take longer to climb to altitude, may not take you to higher altitudes.

Turbine-Type Aircraft

Twin Otter Jump Plane

Twin Otter

  • Often found at larger dropzones near higher population areas.
  • May hold as many as 20+ passengers at a time - can be beneficial when jumping with larger groups.
  • Usually quicker to climb to altitude and able to climb higher.

For those looking for a completely unique experience, there are some dropzones out there that offer specialty aircraft to jump from. With some special reservation you may be able to book tandems from one-of-a-kind aircraft like skyvans or even jets!

Photos and Videos of Your Experience

Skydiving is commonly known as the ultimate 'bucket list' item. Often this means it will be a one-time experience - though tandems are how most experienced jumpers start!

A videographer filming a tandem skydive

If you plan on doing a single tandem for the experience - it's highly recommended that you capture some memories of your jump. Most dropzones will offer packages including photos, videos, or both photos and videos of your jump. You can usually expect to spend an additional $75-150 depending on the package you're looking for.

From personal experience, I can tell you that I am VERY happy that I have a record of my first jump!

Experienced Jumpers - Skydiving on Your Own

Lets say you make your first jump and decide you'd like to become a skydiver. Before you head down this path, it's important to understand the costs involved with becoming an active, licensed skydiver.

Becoming a Licensed Skydiver

In order to become a USPA A-Licensed skydiver in the United States, you'll need to complete a rigorous training course, learn to pack a parachute, and complete a series of 25 jumps and a test.

During this process, you'll need to rent gear and pay for various types of specialized instruction. Some students also wisely invest in a bit of time in a wind tunnel in order to speed along their progression.

On average, you can purchase an A license course package for roughly $2000-3000. The costs to proceed through to your A license will vary from dropzone to dropzone. It can also vary from student to student depending on the amount of assistance and jumps it requires to check all the boxes on your license card.

Buying GearA complete parachute container

After you complete your license, it will be time to buy your parachute setup - or 'rig'. Your parachute system will be one of the largest investments you make as a new jumper. Each system is comprised of:

  • A main parachute.
  • A reserve parachute.
  • A container.
  • An automatic opening device.

The price range for a complete parachute system will vary. As a new jumper, you'll likely want to invest in used gear. As you progress through your first few hundred jumps, you'll likely want to fly smaller, faster parachutes. This means you will need to buy and sell gear as you gain experience.

New parachute equipment is very expensive and you can save a ton by shopping used until you know exactly what you want, and that you'll stick with that setup for some time to come.

You'll be able to find a complete used system for as low as $2000-3000 dollars. Once you start shopping new, you can spend upwards of $10,000 for a shiny, new rig. If you're looking to purchase used gear, I recommend checking out this buy/sell group on Facebook which is very active.

Ongoing Costs

Once you've made it through your A-License course and purchased your own gear, you're off to the races. You've made the initial investment, and now there are the following ongoing costs to consider:

  • A single jumpticket usually runs $15-30 dollars per jump.
  • Reserve repacks (~$60-70) once every 6 months.
  • Some amount ongoing costs for regular gear maintenance, new jumpsuits, or other accessories.
  • Travel costs - especially if you live somewhere without year-round access to jumping.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article helps paint the picture of how much it will cost to make your first jump - or to become a licensed skydiver. If you're ready to make your next jump, you can find a dropzone near you right here on Skydiving Source. Also don't hesitate to drop any questions in the comment section below.


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